Politically and Geographically, Botswana is a unique country in Africa and it offers an equally unique safari experience. Water is always an important element on any safari: where there is water, there will be animals! In Botswana, this relationship is intensified and drives the entire safari experience. The Kalahari, Okavango Delta, and Northern Linyanti/Chobe region are the three main safari destinations; each with their own story to tell.
In the South, the Kalahari desert offers vast desert expanses, beautiful black maned lions, and opportunities to interact with bushmen tribes that have perfected the art of survival in the harshest conditions. Water is scarce here and drives all human and animal relationships and activities. Stay at the Wilderness Safaris Adventure camp, Kalahari Plains, for an opportunity to sleep out under the stars!
Travel a little further north to the Makgadikgadi in The Central Kalahari region to see the great expanse of whispering grasslands and thorny scrub. Take the opportunity to walk out into the vast, empty salt pans and sit still with absolutely nothing around you; the silence here is deafening, but you will learn to clear your mind and hear your thoughts in a whole new way. Stay at Jacks Camp and learn from the !San people, ancient bushman tribes that have learned to live in harmony with both the bush and the modern development around them.
Where the Kalahari is sparsely populated due to the lack of water, the Okavango Delta is sparsely populated because it can get too much water! Visiting this region gives you an opportunity to see how humans and wildlife have learned to live with drastic flood cycles. Be sure to stay in a location that can offer both land and water game-viewing activities to maximize your experience. Vumbura Plains in the Moremi Game Reserve is a fantastic option with luxury accommodations and opportunities to see hippos and elephants wandering around outside your room. Take a mokoro (dugout canoe) safari and experience the area from water level. The delta region is also a bird-watchers paradise! Sandibe, Mombo, and Abu are also great land/water combo camp options. The best time to travel is July-September when the ground is drying out and the game become more concentrated around fewer water resources.
Traveling further north to the Linyanti Reserve (just southwest of the Chobe National Park) and water plays the role of architect drastically changing the shape of the land around you. The Savuti river, which has been a barren, grassy gully for several years, has started flowing again creating a lifeline for the wildlife that has learnt to live in this harsh and forbidding zone. The result is a wildlife experience with a difference, and game drives are constantly changing and full of surprises! I stayed at Savuti camp situated right on the fresh waters of the Savuti river and saw all of the environmental changes first hand. Kings Pool and the newly built Duma Tau are also excellent options. Or, try something a little different, and take a cruise on the Zambezi Queen!